Skip to main content

Winning the 6th and 7th

This season we have seen many fine (used here loosely) examples of why the Sox have designed their offense around building up other teams' pitch counts while trying hard to get their pitchers deep into the game. The reason: very few teams ever have more than two pitchers they can rely on in the late innings to get more than one out. Last year, late in the year especially, the Sox were blessed to have Manny D. set up for Oki to give it to the indomitable Pabst.

This year, the math hasn't worked out quite so cleanly.

I'll talk about the why later. But the point I'm trying to make here is that in the major leagues, the way you win games is by winning the race to face the other team's bull pen.

With the exception of the old Reds with Norm Charlton, Rob Dibble, and Randy Myers, almost no team can consistently shut their opponent down for the last three innings of the game. So, you want two things:
  • Your starting pitcher must pitch to contact and go deep in the game. It is important that the Sox pitchers go into the seventh inning and often finish that. Otherwise, you have to rely too much on inconsistent arms with a slight lead.
  • Your lineup must wear down the opposing starter. Often the opposing starter is facing the Sox lineup in the 6th having already thrown around 100 pitches. That means a few very good things for the hitters: the pitcher is tired (mentally and physically) and the bullpen is getting ready - with it's 3rd or 4th best pitcher if the game is close.
The Sox thus need to get deeper into games with their starters. That will be helped when Dice-K is back and when Colon can go deeper. Unfortunately, Masterson seems to be on a bit of a tight leash. I'm ok with that, but it's not helpful on this front. Luckily, he seems to be rather efficient with his pitches, as you'd expect from a sinker baller.

Also, they need to continue to put together tough at bats up and down the order. It's helpful that even the backups are good at this and that the kids coming up from the minors have had this bred into them.

Oh, and the bullpen needs to pitch better. But the point here is that we can't really legitimately expect that.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Chris Sale, Bullpen Reboot, Hot Stove Checklist Addition, Sell High

CHRIS SALE TRADE: The Sox just got ace lefty Chris Sale for America's top prospect Yoan Moncada, Michael Kopech, another Basabe, and Victor Diaz.  That's a true ace for a potential superstar who clearly needs more seasoning, a golden arm who seemed to be a possible headcase, and two lottery tickets.  This is a very good trade for the Sox. While the Sox would have found room to play Moncada once he was ready, he didn't exactly fill a void with Peddy blocking him at second, Panda getting another shot at 3B this year, and 3B prospects Rafael Devers and Bobby Dalbec - and maybe Michael Chavis - not too far off possibly.  Moncada might not be the biggest pain felt here. After trading Anderson Espinoza for Drew Pomeranz - a trade that is looking worse these days - the trade of Kopech leaves very little high-end pitching talent in the system right now.  There is now a very large drop off after Jason Groome.  Also, the loss of Basabe, Diaz, Dubon and Pennington today just really d…

Sox Season Preview

Starting strong isn't a necessity for making a championship run but it sure helps.  Unfortunately, these Sox will need some real luck to get off to a great start.  They're starting off the year without their #2 starter, starting their 3rd best catcher, lacking a platoon partner for either 1B or 3B, missing their two best set-up guys, and expecting All Star caliber play from a rookie.  That said, all these issues should resolve themselves by mid-June and even a bad Sox '17 team should be in fine position to make a second half run.  But Sox fans will likely be pulling out their hair for the first month or two.

Things do have a way of working themselves out with good teams.  Last year, the Sox started the year with a pronounced lack of home runs, their best pitcher was the last guy to make the rotation (Wright) and we had gone through 2 catchers and lost a live Panda.  Things turned around with the team ending up 7th in the AL in homers - and by far the most runs - the league…

Sox' Phantom Depth

Two former top outfield prospects who can play a little defense and sometimes be a threat at the plate and a 1B/OF with two years receiving votes for NL MVP.  These guys are the surplus players just off the Red Sox expected 25-man 2017 roster.  And its unlikely any of them will be able to significantly help the team this year even if they played up to the highest expectations.

Bryce Brentz, Rusney Castillo, and Allen Craig are all Red Sox as of today and you could make a pretty easy argument why it's plausible that each one could be strong contributors to a major league team this year - and two of them likely will, but that team won't be the Red Sox.

Brentz is a former first round pick who can hit the ball a mile, has a cannon arm, and is athletic enough to roam the outfield.  He hit rather well last year, especially against lefties, during his tenure as the Sox starter while Chris Young and Brock Holt were hurt - and Andrew Benintendi was in A-ball.  What has held him back ove…